The release of Iron Man in 2008 launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and changed the superhero movie genre forever. Individual characters had already found success in theaters, but the MCU pioneered crossovers among the characters and an ongoing narrative woven throughout the films.
The result? The MCU is the undisputed GOAT. 🐐
A decade and 20+ movies later, the MCU has shattered box office records, received the highest aggregate positive critical response from critics among genre franchises, and established a multi-billion dollar juggernaut that includes toys, theme parks, and television series at Disney+.
But the MCU is nowhere near done! Not only have the MCU Phase 4 films been announced, rumors continue to fly about upcoming big screen and Disney+ projects. Many of those rumors swirl around the Marvel comic book character NOVA. Let’s investigate.
History: Marvel Comics’ Nova
Nova first appeared in The Man Called Nova #1 in 1976. The comic was illustrated by John Buscema and written by Marv Wolfman, who had conceived of the cosmic character a decade earlier in his fanzine.
He’s appeared in hundreds of Marvel comics since. Some notables:
- The Man Called Nova lasted 25 issues but it established the character’s backstory as a member of the Nova Corps and a power set that earned him the nickname “human rocket.”
- Nova flew under the radar (pun intended) until he became a member of the New Warriors in the early 90s. We’ve written more on that excellent New Warriors series.
- Nova then grew up in the Annihilation event and the sequels, which we’ve covered in full. Annihilation re-established Marvel cosmic with a Big Bang, gave rise to the Guardians of the Galaxy as they are known in the movies, and elevated Nova into a truly remarkable character.
If “Nova Corps” isn’t a familiar concept for you, think about Glen Close and John C. Reilly’s characters in the first Guardians movie. Again created by writer Marv Wolfman, the Corps first appeared in Fantastic Four #205 (1979).
The Nova Corps are an intergalactic police force from the planet Xandar that consists of officers ranging in rank from Corpsman up to its leader Centurion Nova Prime. The Nova Corps are powered by the Nova Force, an unlimited energy generated by a living computer called the Xandarian Worldmind.
The Nova Force grants Nova gravimetric powers, meaning he has the ability to open stargates that allow him to enter hyperspace and move at velocities exceeding the speed of light. He also has the classic superhuman strength, speed, and durability, as well as the ability to release energy as gravimetric pulses and beams.
Richard Rider is cocky, headstrong, and always interested in the ladies. But the events of Annihilation matured him and gave him the experience necessary to grow into a capable and trusted leader.
Hearsay: What are the Rumors Surrounding Nova?
Nova almost debuted in the MCU previously, something confirmed by screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Early drafts of Avengers: Infinity War had the cosmic superhero be the one to crash into Earth to give the warning to Dr. Strange and Wong in New York, but Nova’s intro was scrapped in favor of Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk having this role.
This wasn’t the only time that Nova news leaked. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn revealed in 2017 that Nova “comes up occasionally” as a character that he can potentially use in future movies, which leads many to believe that the character could cameo in the upcoming third installment of the Guardians franchise. Additionallly, Ant-Man writer Adam McKay expressed his interest in helming a movie for the beloved character, casually revealing that the studio “kicks Nova ideas around.”
Finally, MCU mastermind Kevin Feige also reiterated that the character has “immediate potential” to join the wider MCU. So the likelihood of a future Nova appearance in the MCU is likely, rather than doubtful.
How-To: How Might Nova Appear in the MCU?
There are a lot of potetial ways to introduce Nova into the MCU, particularly now that Disney+ series will have direct ties.
First, an appearance by Nova in James Gunn’s Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 3 would be entirely plausible, given that the Nova Corps already appearing in GotG Vol. 1. It would take nothing more than the Guardians make a return trip to Xandar.
With the rumors of an expanded role of Sylvester Stallone’s Ravagers to GotG Vol. 3, weaving Nova into that storyline crowds the movie. But Gunn has proven he’s adept at juggling a multitude of characters. Besides, who best to serve as a foil to the Ravagers than an intergalactic police officer like Nova?
Related, what if Nova appeared in the rumored Ravager Disney+ series? An intergalactic police officer brought in as the foil to the Ravagers plans of a stealing spree across the galaxy would make for a great overarching narrative.
Nova could appear in Captain Marvel 2. The Skrulls have already been introduced, so the plausibility of Captain Marvel 2 implementing the classic Secret Invasion comic book storyline is high.
Nova assisting Captain Marvel with Kree/Skrull relations in space, plus returning with her to Earth to help sort out a secret Skrull invasion would make for a great team-up.
I write fanfic in my head. When Thanos snapped, half the Nova Corps blipped, just like everyone else. What if the remaining Nova Crops members were sent off to various planets to check in on survivors.
Rhomann Dey, the Nova Corps member who gave Richard Rider his powers in the comics, could have been sent to Earth to serve and protect in Thanos’s wake. When he arrives, he crashes into Rider. Boom. Origin story that fits within current MCU storyline context.
In the end, Nova could just be “dropped in.” Just like the unused idea of Nova being the “herald” that warns of the Thanos invasion, he could be used in a similar way in the future. In fact, having Nova drop into the storyline would probably be more likely than a standalone film with an origin story like Ant-Man writer Adam McKay is interested in.
Regardless, there has been so much smoke surrounding Nova that it’s unlikely there isn’t a fire burning somewhere in regards to the character. I love him – being a huge New Warriors and Annihilation fan – so I hope we see him sooner, rather than later. Either way, Nova is worth the wait.
[Editor’s Note: Yeah, Sam Alexander is a second version of Nova and Frankie Raye, the former herald of Galactus, used the name as well. But it’s decades of comics, so the lore sometimes sprawls way beyond one article. So let’s assume the MCU will introduce Richard Rider, the OG Nova.]